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phenylephrine (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking phenylephrine?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to phenylephrine.

Do not use phenylephrine if you have used linezolid (Zyvox) or procarbazine (Matulane), or if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) in the last 14 days. Serious, life-threatening side effects can occur if you take phenylephrine before these other drugs have cleared from your body.

If you have certain conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this medication. Before you take phenylephrine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any decongestants, or if you have:

  • heart disease, heart rhythm disorder;
  • high blood pressure;
  • circulation problems (such as Raynaud's syndrome);
  • diabetes;
  • glaucoma;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • kidney disease;
  • an enlarged prostate or urination problems;
  • sleep problems, anxiety; or
  • mental illness such as bipolar disorder.

FDA pregnancy category C. Is not known whether this medication will harm an unborn baby. Before you take phenylephrine, tell doctor if you are pregnant.

Phenylephrine may pass into breast milk and could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medication.

Disintegrating and liquid forms of cold medicine may contain sugar or artificial sweeteners (phenylalanine). This would be important to know if you have diabetes or phenylketonuria (PKU). Check the ingredients and warnings on the medication label if you are concerned about sugar or phenylalanine.

How should I use phenylephrine?

Use this medication exactly as directed on the label, or as it has been prescribed by your doctor. Do not use the medication in larger amounts, or use it for longer than recommended. Cold medicine is usually taken only for a short time until your symptoms clear up.

Do not give this medication to a child younger than 4 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cough or cold medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children.

You may take phenylephrine with food if it upsets your stomach.

Take the phenylephrine tablet with a full glass of water.

Measure the liquid form of phenylephrine with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

The chewable phenylephrine tablet must be chewed thoroughly before you swallow it.

To use the phenylephrine disintegrating strip, place one strip on your tongue and allow it to dissolve without chewing.

To use the disintegrating tablet, make sure your hands are dry and peel back the foil from the blister package. Place the tablet on your tongue. It will begin to dissolve right away. Do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing.

Phenylephrine is usually taken every 4 hours. Follow the directions on the medicine label. Never take more of the medicine than directed on the label or prescribed by your doctor.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 7 days of using phenylephrine, or if they get worse and your also have a fever.

If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time if you have taken a cold medicine within the past few days.

Store phenylephrine at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the disintegrating tablets or strips in their package until you are ready to take one.

Throw away any unused phenylephrine after the expiration date on the label has passed. Do not flush this medication down a toilet. Ask your pharmacist about the safest way to dispose of unused medicines.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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